Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Forest Hill Cemetery Crossbills!

I had a couple of errands to run in Madison on my day off today, so I thought I would stop by Forest Hill Cemetery to see if I could locate the White-winged Crossbills other birders have been recently reporting. Until today, I hadn't seen these neat birds since 2009 at Pheasant Branch Conservancy. Despite the dreary wet weather and poor lighting conditions, I found them without too much difficulty by listening for their calls.

With hemlock, spruce, and lots of other conifers, plus a lack of snow cover, there were plenty of areas where the crossbills could easily forage on the ground for cones. Once I found them, the birds were super focused on eating and paid no attention to me as I snapped away. It was amusing watching them systematically work the cones with their feet and bills.

A cemetery might seem like an odd or eerie place to look at birds, but Forest Hill is more of a tree-filled historical park. It was created around the time of the Civil War and has a couple of military burial plots with both Union and Confederate soldiers. It's actually a very beautiful place for a walk. Some of the older headstones and markers were covered with so much moss it was almost impossible to read their engravings.

All images © 2013 Mike McDowell